From numerous reports across the globe, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not doing well.
Some reports say the 69-year-old former KGB agent has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, while others say that judging by his physical behavior at public events, he may have something else, like Parkinson’s or dementia. The reports, as is the world today, vary in levels of reliability.
But another take, this one from a former MI6 chief, went further, saying Putin will be out of power and end up in a long-term care facility by 2023, according to the New York Post.
“I’m really going to stick my neck out. I think he’ll be gone by 2023,” Sir Richard Dearlove, who ran Britain’s CIA-like agency, said on the “One Decision” podcast, which he co-hosts. “Probably into the sanatorium, from which he will not emerge as leader of Russia.”
Institutionalizing Putin could be what Dearlove called an “elegant” alternative to a coup. In that event, he said one likely successor would be secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev.
“If my thesis were fulfilled and Putin did disappear into a sanatorium, I think he’s the likely stand-in,” said Dearlove, who served as head of the British Secret Intelligence Service from 1999 until 2004. “And of course the stand-in [in] this scenario probably becomes permanent. I mean, you know there is no succession in the Russian leadership. They certainly don’t succession-plan.”
Over the last few weeks, speculation has swirled about Putin’s health. He skipped a hockey game in which he has played in for about a decade, and in one public appearance, he appeared bloated and was seen clinging to a table.
In another report, an oligarch close to the Kremlin claimed Putin is “very ill with blood cancer,” according to a secret recording obtained by New Lines Magazine.
“The recording represents rare testimony by someone with proven ties to the Russian government that its fanatical dictator may well be seriously unwell,” the magazine stated of the comments made in mid-March, about three weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“He absolutely ruined Russia’s economy, Ukraine’s economy and many other economies — ruined [them] absolutely,” the unnamed oligarch said of Putin. “The problem is with his head. … One crazy guy can turn the world upside down.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.